Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Development and Initial Investigation of the School Counseling Program Evaluation Scale

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Development and Initial Investigation of the School Counseling Program Evaluation Scale

Article excerpt

This article evaluates the initial psychometric qualities of the School Counseling Program Evaluation Survey (SCOPES). SCOPES is a 64-item instrument designed to correspond to The National Standards for School Counseling Programs (Campbell & Dahir, 1997). Coefficient alphas on the overall score and the three subscales (i.e., Academic, Career, and Personal/Social Development) were all above. 90. All items had significant factor loadings with the specified subscales. The loadings for Academic Development were .38 to . 79; for Career Development, .42 to .78; and for Personal/Social Development, .36 to. 70. The indexes of goodness-of-fit supported a three-factor instrument. Additionally, students with more contacts with their school counselor reported more career competencies than did students who had never met with a counselor.

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Consistent with other professions within education, there have been calls for increased accountability within the field of school counseling (Erford, 2007; Stone & Dahir, 2007). This trend is represented in the ASCA National Model[R] developed by the American School Counselor Association (2005), in which counselors are encouraged to collect data regarding the effectiveness of their school counseling programs. This is often a difficult process as there are very few "off-the-shelf" instruments that assess outcomes relevant to school counseling programs (Studer, Oberman, & Womack, 2006).

In the past 20 years, school counselors have moved from providing services to individual students to providing a comprehensive program that delivers services to all students (Gysbers & Henderson, 2006). A comprehensive guidance and counseling model involves the implementation of a structured, sequential, and organized program in a school district with students from kindergarten through high school graduation. Hence, there is a guidance curriculum that is part of the educational experiences of each student within a school district (Gysbers, Lapan, & Jones, 2000). This movement toward comprehensive developmental guidance programs resulted in ASCA publishing The National Standards for School Counseling Programs (Campbell & Dahir, 1997). These standards explicate the competencies that students should acquire as a result of a comprehensive developmental guidance program provided by trained school counselors.

Although the field of school counseling has adopted the comprehensive developmental guidance approach, there has been very little research evaluating the effectiveness of this model (Whiston, 2007; Whiston & Sexton, 1998). Whiston (2002) argued that more research concerning the effects of school counseling programs is needed, but she contended that a major impediment to conducting both research and evaluation studies in school counseling is the lack of sound outcome assessments. Whiston, Eder, Tai, and Rahardja (2005) found in a meta-analysis of school counseling interventions that researchers often used instruments with limited psychometric support. For example, they found that in their meta-analysis of 117 studies that evaluated school counseling interventions, reliability information was available for less than 39% of the measures and validation evidence was reported less frequently. Hence, there appears to be a substantial need for a psychometrically sound evaluation instrument that could assess the effectiveness of school counseling programs.

In addition to the need for instruments to be used in school counseling research, there is a need for additional measurement tools to assist school counselors in responding to the calls for development of comprehensive school counseling programs that are data driven (Dimmitt, 2003; Isaacs, 2003; Stone & Dahir, 2007). The need for school counselors to collect data to inform their decision-making is particularly evident in the ASCA National Model (2005), in which school counselors are directed to evaluate their school counseling programs. …

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